Samoan parental perceptions of early literacy practices at home and in the community for children transitioning from Aoga Amata to mainstream primary school : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Psychology at Massey University, Albany Campus, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Although there is an abundance of research which outlines academic failure and underachievement of Pāsifika students at all levels of education, there is very little research that looks through the lens of what Pāsifika children bring to education. Are Pāsifika homes barren or rich in literacy practices? This study explored the wealth of literacy learning young Pāsifika learners engage in, within the context of their homes prior to entering the compulsory schooling system. Based in a Samoan Aoga Amata (early childhood centre) from South Auckland, parental perceptions of early literacy practices at home and in the community were explored for children transitioning from Samoan Aoga Amata to mainstream primary school. Drawing on a Pāsifikaqualitative approach, and utilising Fa’afaletui as a methodological framework, photo elicitation was incorporated to capture deeper elements of human consciousness in which images as well as words were explored (Harper, 2002). In doing so, a culturally responsive and respectful process was created to enable Samoan parents to engage, share and feel safe within their own worlds. Findings of this study identified key knowledges and influences that impact Samoan children’s developmental abilities in literacy. Areas of strength based on literacy context (where and what learning occurs), methods of literacy (how Samoan children learn best) and parental priorities (what is most important) were uncovered. Furthermore, recommendations for those in school learning contexts, both at teacher and management levels, were identified. These are: the family as the nurturing agent of learning, the importance of recognising prior knowledge, the awareness of diverse learning strategies, and the importance of creativity and oral language. Limitations for children transitioning from Aoga Amata were also revealed as: not having established partnerships between Aoga Amata and primary school, changing teacher perceptions, and teacher workload, viewing the teacher as being the one with the knowledge, parents disengaging due to language barriers, and the cultural difference in practice between the Aoga Amata and receiving school. Overall, this study found Samoan children from Aoga Amata do come with an abundance of rich early literacy practices from home, Aoga Amata and church community. The challenge, however, is for teachers and schools to tap into this knowledge and, as a result, provide better outcomes for Samoan children transitioning from Aoga Amata. This could be applicable to all Pāsifika children transitioning from Pacific language nests.
Language arts (Early childhood), Reading (Early childhood), Samoans, Education (Early childhood), Early childhood education, Parent participation, New Zealand, Auckland